Focal Length Overlap

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Today’s Question: I need to replace my standard zoom lens, and am trying to decide between the 24-70mm lens versus the 24-105mm lens. My next lens in terms of focal length is a 70-200mm. So, should I choose the 24-70mm to avoid overlap between lenses, or opt for the lens with the greater range even though there is an overlap with the 70-200mm lens?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In this case, all other things being equal, I would opt for the 24-105mm lens rather than the 24-70mm lens. The reason is that I would rather have greater utility with a given lens, in order to reduce the frequency with which I need to switch lenses.

More Detail: There are, of course, more than a few factors to consider when choosing a lens. For purposes of today’s question, I will therefore assume the two lens options are essentially equal in all aspects other than focal length (recognizing that there will generally be at least a weight difference involved when talking about two lenses with different focal length ranges).

For me personally, for most photography trips a lens with a range of around 24-105mm tends to be my most-used lens. As a result, I’m particularly interested in having as much utility with that lens as possible. That means I would tend to favor the 24-105mm lens over a 24-70mm lens, assuming my next lens in terms of focal length is a 70-200mm lens.

In other words, I’d rather have a little bit of overlap between my lenses, to help reduce the number of times I might need to switch lenses.

That said, it is also important to consider other factors. In many cases you may find that a 24-70mm lens provides improved sharpness, and possibly a larger maximum aperture size. In addition, a 24-70mm lens will generally be lighter compared to a 24-105mm lens (though not always, based on a variety of factors).

Ultimately, I encourage you to consider which specifications for a given lens are most important to you. But if two lenses meet your needs somewhat equally other than focal length, I would tend to favor the lens with a greater range, due to the increased utility for that lens.